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Published on April 23, 2024
Illinois State Museum's Gen X Exhibit Wins Top Honors, Heads to Lockport after Springfield SuccessSource: Google Street View

Nostalgia for the bygone days of Generation X has scored the Illinois State Museum a couple of top honors from the Illinois Association of Museums. Their exhibit "Growing Up X" snagged an Award of Superior Achievement, the pinnacle of praise in the exhibits category, and also walked away with the Innovation Award, according to an announcement on the state's official website.

The museum's dive into the formative years of those born between 1965 and 1980, covered everything from playthings to tech, to cultural milestones, making it the nation's first to shine a spotlight on Gen X. The Superior Achievement accolade recognized the museum’s fresh take on a generation often overlooked in historical retrospectives. The accolade hailed the exhibit for “successfully connected individual visitors with their place in this cultural and historical context of the United States while also deploying technology and hands-on elements in new and fun ways,” as per the Illinois government’s press release.

The standout feature is a fully interactive 1986 recreation room decked out with vintage gaming systems, stereos, magazines, and a memorably ugly floral couch. This blast from the past offered visitors a chance to physically engage with the decade, an approach that had the awards committee swooning over its open layout which allowed visitors “the agency and opportunity to experience the space on their own terms.”

"Growing Up X was a special blend of nostalgia and history," Jenn Edginton, interim director of the Illinois State Museum was quoted saying, "Our curator of history and those who helped make the exhibit so special with crowd-sourced GenX stories created something truly unique and innovative." It's clear that IAM’s nod to the exhibit reflects their appreciation of the museum's innovative approach to storytelling.

Although the exhibit wrapped up its stint in Springfield in October 2023, enthusiasts still hanging on to their parachute pants can catch Growing Up X at the Illinois State Museum's Lockport Gallery until June 15, 2024. The Illinois State Museum, an institution since 1877, continues its mission to inspire exploration of Illinois' history and conservation of its cultural and natural resources. More info about the exhibit and museum can be found on the state’s website.